U hurl with excitement

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By Emily Brower

We had our pints on the table, TVs blaring a cacophony of sound from Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, and the eager voices of the pub-goers surrounding us. We were ready for Galway, our home for the next four months, to take on Kilkenny in the 2012 All-Ireland Hurling Final this past Sunday.

Hurling is a sport native to Ireland. It consists of 15 players, each with a flat, wooden stick called a hurley, a ball similar to a baseball called a sliotar, soccer goals topped with field goals, and only the mandatory helmet and face mask for padding. The object is to get the sliotar into the goal for three points, or over the crossbar for one point. The players move the sliotar by running with it in their hand for no more than four steps, balancing it on their hurleys, throwing it up and hitting it with their hands or their hurleys, or striking it on the ground. It is a fast-paced and rough game that we couldn’t help but get excited about.

We found ourselves attached to the outcome of the game as though we were lifelong Galway hurling supporters. “This is our Super Bowl,” Kevin, an Irish student sitting with us, joked. He told us how Kilkenny has won seven out of the past 10 All-Ireland Hurling Finals, so when Galway scored the first goal and was up by six points at half time, the entire pub was ecstatic.

Kilkenny rallied in the second half, and we found ourselves perched on the edges of our stools, hands over our mouths, waiting for Joe Canning, arguably Galway’s best player, to make his final free shot with just seconds left in the game. He didn’t disappoint, and the pub exploded as he tied up the score.

Unfortunately, hurling doesn’t have overtime. In fact, there hasn’t been a draw in the final since 1959. Instead, there will be a rematch in three weeks. We could be disappointed, but it means we get to cheer on Galway in the All-Ireland Hurling Final once again.

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